Hello and here is my July letter from Ireland.
We have had a lovely spell of dry weather for the last few weeks and were able to enjoy the midsummer festivities without having to resort to the use of an umbrella !
The flowers in my garden are in full bloom and all around the country farmers are hard at work saving hay and making the most of the fine weather. But despite all the frenzied activity in the countryside long ago the month of July was known as “the hungry month “ as food was at its scarcest. By the time that July arrived food from the previous harvest had sustained households over most of the previous year, and many families found that their larders were bare ahead of the harvest .
As you know , we Irish are obsessed with the weather and an important date in the folklore calendar is July 15th – St Swithin’s Day. The old belief tells that if it rains on St Swithin’s Day (Sweeten or Sweeteen as it is called in Munster), the succeeding forty days will also be wet. I’m sure that you can appreciate that anyone who is in involved on agriculture or the outdoors keeps their fingers crossed on this day !
July is a great month for celebrations . I know that my American friends will celebrate Independence day on July the 4th. To celebrate we have just launched our 20% Off EVERYTHING on my website www.connemaramarble.com So snap up a bargain ! Our Protestant neighbours in Northern Ireland will commemorate the Battle of the Boyne on July the 12th. This day will be marked with parades and bonfires all over the province .
Another great tradition in Ireland happens on the last Sunday in July . It is traditionally known for the great pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick, a mountain in County Mayo. Croagh Patrick, or Cruach Phádraig as it is known in Irish, literally means Patrick’s Stack, the site, according to legend, was where Saint Patrick fasted for 40 days. For over four thousand years Patrick’s Stack has attracted pilgrimages, with the site originally hosting pagan gatherings which were gradually to become more Christianised from the time of Saint Patrick. Thousands and thousands will make the climb that day, many walking barefooted all the way to the summit. They will make stops along the way at several “ stations “ or places of special prayer . I tend to avoid the place on the day as it is very congested but have made my own personal journey to the summit on several occasions, believe me it’s a really tough climb – but the views from the top are amazing and the sense of pilgrimage makes it all worthwhile .
In the meantime, we are very busy in the workshop these days . As tourism has recovered in Ireland all the team are flat out getting supplies out to the shops so that our visitors can bring home their own piece of Connemara marble to treasure from their visit to Ireland . We are busy too finishing our orders for the QVC Rose of Tralee celebration that will air in September. I will have more news about this exciting event soon – stand by for updates !!
Stay well till next time, Stephen